Kazakhstan's President Tokayev announces state of emergency in largest metropolis Almaty and western Mangystau region amid mass protests.

Public protests are illegal in Kazakhstan unless their organisers file a notice in advance.
Public protests are illegal in Kazakhstan unless their organisers file a notice in advance. (Reuters)

Kazakh President Qasym Zhomart Tokayev has said his government will not fall, as protests in some major cities turned violent and a crowd tried to storm the mayor's office in the Central Asian nation's biggest city.

"Calls to attack government and military offices are absolutely illegal," Tokayev said in a video address on Tuesday.

"The government will not fall, but we want mutual trust and dialogue rather than conflict."

Tokayev also declared a two-week state of emergency in the Central Asian nation's biggest city Almaty and in the western Mangistau province, both of which have become scenes of mass protests, his office said

Rare protests 

The oil-rich country's government announced it was restoring some price caps on liquefied petroleum gas, after the rare protests reached Almaty following a sharp rise in the price of the fuel at the start of the year.

Many Kazakhs have converted their cars to run on LPG, long far cheaper than gasoline as a vehicle fuel in Kazakhstan because of price caps. But the government argued that the low price was unsustainable and lifted the caps on January 1.

After the price of the fuel spiked, rallies involving thousands of people erupted on January 2 in the town of Zhanaozen, an oil hub and site of deadly clashes between protesters and police a decade ago.

Demonstrations spread to other parts of surrounding Mangistau province and western Kazakhstan, including provincial centre Aktau and a worker camp used by sub-contractors of Kazakhstan's biggest oil producer, Tengizchevroil. 

The Chevron-led venture said output had not been affected.

Communications jammed 

In Almaty, police cordoned off the main square on Monday and Tuesday, and local media reported that dozens of people were detained late on Tuesday as protesters blocked a busy street.

Mobile internet was jammed in the downtown area.

On Tuesday evening, the government announced it was restoring the price cap of 50 tenge ($0.11) per litre, or less than half the market price, in Mangistau province.

Public protests are illegal in Kazakhstan unless their organisers file a notice in advance.

Tokayev said on Twitter that he will hold a government meeting the following day to discuss the protesters' demands. He urged protesters to behave responsibly.

Source: Reuters